Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obama Stereotypes

Anabel Lima writes in on the controversy surrounding SoCal Republicans' attacks on Barack Obama--an LA Times story on the issue is here.

Dear Dr. Nericcio:

I am writing to you in regards to the story of Diane Fedele, president of the Republican Women's Club in San Bernardino County who forwarded the Obama Buck image in her newsletter.

This was one of the responses from a Republican man of color on the Rightpundits website:
"The 'Obama Bucks' image shows Obama surrounded by food that has historically been stereotyped with southern black individuals, most notably fried chicken, watermelon, ribs and Kool-Aid. Those are racial stereotypes from our past that are rightfully repudiated in 2008 when noticed."

My commentary:
So does this author truly believe no one would "notice" these images as stereotypical and racist? Due to its "historical content", maybe those of us not brushed up on history would dismiss its powerful effect on our consciousness?

Our Rightpundits author goes on to say:
"But the good news is that we are progressing beyond the power of such stereotypes. At a basic level, Barack Obama

is merely surrounded by food we all eat. That is the way the San Bernadino GOP woman from 'Chaffey Community Republican Women', Diane Fedele, says she saw it when she sent a newsletter out containing the image which she had found in her email box."

Ms. Fedele response to the L.A. Times' David Kelly, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer on October 17, 2008:

"If I was racist, I would have looked at it through racist eyes," she said. "I am not racist, which is why it probably didn't register."

Club member Kristina Sandoval agreed.

"None of us are racists," she said.

The use of watermelon, ribs and fried chicken was innocent, she said.

"Everyone eats those foods, it's not a racial thing."

Ms. Fedele purports merely making a statement in regards to Obama's socialistic views or approach to the U.S. Economy:

The caption reads: "Obama talks about all those presidents that got their names on bills. If elected, what bill would he be on ????? Food Stamps, what else!"

And lets not forget Obama is strategically drawn as a jackass on the bill. So when does a jackass become a common theme in our culture and as a governmental entity? One might argue she meant to represent the democratic party "theme" but we can easily think of other definitions for "jackass." We are not fools; we know the true meaning being illustrated.

Of course I went on to read the blog responses from many individuals whites and non-whites alike and found so many outraged individuals but less individuals who found the image funny and benign. I found many responses whereby individuals had not progressed "beyond the power of such stereotypes." So should we not be offended by this image since its stereotypically from the South and it is now 2008? Are we being told to move on with our lives and not become so "easily offended" by such depictions?

I for one was deeply offended from the onset of the creator's drawing board of supposed innocence and commonality.  I also find completely absurd the notion that anyone who finds the cartoon racist is simply a racist her/himself and so those who do not have "racist eyes" can opt out as what, unconscious?  It was interesting to me that Ms. Fedele used the word "register" in her explanation of why she is not racist. Was she in a social coma all her life? Truly to be a leader in a group of individuals you must have some cognition and degree of consciousness. Ms. Fedele's reveals to us her lack of social awareness and sensitivity - genuine ignorance. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Thanks to Ms. Fedele, and those who agree with her, these words of wisdom are abundantly clear and well-taken.


Here's an LA TIMES video on the story:

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